Kansas Attempting to Prove Colorado Marijuana is Wreaking Havoc on State

A photo from the Kansas Highway Patrol Facebook page. Documents and more below.
A photo from the Kansas Highway Patrol Facebook page. Documents and more below.
Kansas Highway Patrol Facebook page

Last month, the federal government sided with Colorado in a lawsuit filed with the U.S. Supreme Court by Oklahoma and Nebraska, which claim that our marijuana laws should be dismantled due to residual harm being caused across state lines.

Kansas hasn't joined the suit, but its attorney general, Derek Schmidt, appears to be gathering evidence that would bolster the case being made by these states. This week, his office announced that it was sending surveys to prosecutors and law-enforcement officials — see them below — in an effort to determine how much Colorado cannabis is negatively impacting the good people of Kansas.

Ever since the 2012 passage of Amendment 64, which legalized limited recreational marijuana sales in Colorado, we've been sharing reports about the reaction in Kansas to this development.

In March 2013, for example, we spoke to an attorney who advised folks to ditch their weed before crossing into Kansas because of the state's draconian cannabis laws.

A few months later, in a July 2013 post, we noted claims that more than half of felony pot trafficking cases in Kansas could be traced to Colorado. And the following year, we posted about assertions that Kansas authorities were profiling rental cars with Colorado license plates.

Nonetheless, hard data about Colorado marijuana remains elusive — and Schmidt would like to change that.

In a January 4 release that consistently puts the word legalize in quotes when referring to Colorado's marijuana laws, Schmidt's office notes that he "has launched a statewide project to collect information about how marijuana acquired in Colorado is entering and affecting Kansas."

Derek Schmidt.
Derek Schmidt.
Kansas Attorney General's Office

Why? "Existing criminal justice information systems are inadequate to track the phenomenon because they do not collect information about the origin of marijuana encountered by Kansas law enforcement, and they cannot readily be modified to do so," the release maintains.

“There are numerous and persistent anecdotal accounts of marijuana acquired in Colorado and illegally transported into Kansas causing harm here,” Schmidt is quoted as saying. “But because of technology limits, the confirming data is elusive. Since Colorado’s experiment with legalization is affecting Kansas, we need to know more about what is actually happening here so policymakers can make informed decisions.”

As such, Schmidt's staffers have distributed more than 500 surveys, with one version tailored to sheriffs and police chiefs and the other created with county and district attorneys in mind.

The former features the following eight questions:

1. How many seizures of Colorado marijuana have occurred in your jurisdiction since January 1, 2014? If you are unable to determine an exact number of seizures, please provide your best estimate.

2. How many arrests have been made in your jurisdiction since January 1, 2014, involving a person suspected of being impaired as the result of using Colorado marijuana? Again, please provide a best estimate if you are unable to provide an exact number of arrests.

3. Has Colorado marijuana been found in the possession of juveniles in your jurisdiction since January 1, 2014? If "yes," please elaborate and provide as much information as possible to assist in understanding the nature and scope of this problem.

4. Are you aware of any Colorado marijuana found in your jurisdiction since January 1, 2014, int eh form of edibles, food additives or other ingestible products? If "yes," please elaborate and provide as much information as possible to assist in understanding the nature and scope of this problem.

5. Are you aware of any other Colorado marijuana by-products (such as waxes or oils) found in your jurisdiction since January 1, 2014? If "yes," please elaborate and provide as much information as possible to assist in understanding the nature and scope of this problem.

6. If you have provided any information in response to the questions above about incidents in your jurisdiction, please describe why you believe that the marijuana involved was, in fact, Colorado marijuana and did not come from another source.

7. Overall, how would you characterize the effect of Colorado marijuana "legalization" in your jurisdiction since January 1, 2014?

8. Please provide any other information you believe would assist the Office of the Attorney General in ascertaining the true condition of the Colorado marijuana situation in your jurisdiction and in Kansas.

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Toward the bottom of the release about the surveys, a reference is made to the aforementioned Supreme Court case. Schmidt's office is monitoring it carefully, the text points out prior to a final Schmidt quote: "We’re approaching this unprecedented situation methodically so we can assess and then, if needed, address the actual problems. We need data that shows what is actually happening in Kansas as the result of Colorado’s experiment. In my view, any response needs to be thoughtful and informed by factual data, not emotions.”

And if factual data isn't available, best estimates will do.

Here are copies of the surveys sent out by Schmidt's office.


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